President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s first meeting later this week comes against the backdrop of a cyberattack thought to be linked to Russia that largely wreaked havoc in Ukraine. This latest cyberattack, which spread globally, offers yet another potent example of the way the Kremlin has treated ...

Xi Jinping will make his first visit to Hong Kong as president of China this week as the territory prepares to commemorate the 20th anniversary of its handover from Britain to China. Xi, who has slowly but surely consolidated power around himself will visit as Hong Kong fears it is ...

Twenty years ago, when Britain handed Hong Kong back to China, Beijing agreed to administer the island according to the Basic Law, which would preserve the civil and political liberties of Hong Kong and create a path to universal suffrage for Hong Kong. However, in the intervening years, many believe ...

Hong Kong’s society and economy have changed under 20 years of Beijing’s influence. Chinese capital has bought out companies and real estate and job seekers from the mainland compete with Hong Kong citizens. The influx has generated social problems by exacerbating inequality, and many worry it is diminishing Hong Kong’s ...

At first glance, the similarities between President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi point to a foundation for a strong relationship. Both wish to build their countries’ economies—Trump has his “America First” slogan while Modi is pushing his “Make in India” program. Both are political populists with strong ...

Former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell on Thursday warned against the pressing threat of North Korea, suggesting that the country may have the capability to put a nuclear weapon on the continental U.S. “It’s a current threat, not a future threat,” Morell told attendees of The Cipher Brief’s Annual Threat Conference ...

The U.S. war in Afghanistan has entered into its 16th year with no end in sight. With the battle against the Taliban essentially mired in a stalemate and the Afghan government failing to address endemic corruption and countrywide economic woes, there appear to be no good options for moving forward. ...

The U.S. continues to face a daunting challenge in Afghanistan, as it aims to bring stability to a country that has been plagued by conflict for decades. The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel sat down with Anthony Cordesman, Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International ...

The American war in Afghanistan is in its 16th year. It was preceded by 12 years of civil war, and before that by the Soviet Union’s war. So the country itself has been in, more or less, continuous conflict since 1979.  Today, the Trump Administration is facing the same set ...

High level United States-China talks concluded Wednesday with the U.S. pressing China “to exert much greater economic and diplomatic pressure” on North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program, Washington’s top security threat. Looming large on the eve of the first U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue was a CNN report ...

Showtime claimed its four-part documentary of Oliver Stone interviews with Vladimir Putin provided “unparalleled access” to the Russian ruler and “intimate insight into his personal and professional lives.” The timing of the show was certainly appealing, considering the intense media focus on Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election. Unfortunately, ...

On June 21, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis will meet with their Chinese counterparts, State Councilor Yang Jiechi and General Fang Fenghui, Chief of Joint Staff of the People’s Liberation Army in Washington for the inaugural session of the U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue. ...

Upon coming into office, the Trump Administration quickly came to the correct conclusion that the Obama Administration’s policy of “strategic patience” toward North Korea was really “strategic neglect.”  Secretary of State Tillerson in Seoul March 17 stated it succinctly: “Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ...

In a recent interview with reporters in Beijing, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton noted that the Chinese were finally exerting greater pressure on North Korea. China’s “shift in emphasis,” in her words, entails stepped-up inspections and policing at the border as well ...

Last week, General Eduardo Ano, the Philippines Chief of Staff, said he hoped that the city of Marawi would be liberated from Islamist militants before June 12, the country’s Independence Day. The deadline has come and gone, but the fighting continues. Islamist militants still hold about a fifth of the ...

While Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte remains at odds with the United States, the armed forces of the two countries have maintained a close working relationship that dates to 1951 and the signing of a mutual defense treaty. In recent years the primary mission of U.S. forces in the Philippines has ...

As a Catholic-majority nation with a large Muslim minority in the southern islands, the Philippines has struggled with religious strife for decades. While extremist violence is not a new phenomenon, ISIS’ powerful message calling for global jihad has galvanized cooperation among extremist groups and attracted foreign militants to fight in ...

Pyongyang has responded to the UN Security Council’s unanimous decision June 2 to expand sanctions for North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs by lashing out, not only at the United States but also at China. “[The U.S. and China] railroaded ‘sanctions resolution’ at the [UN Security Council] after having ...

U.S. policymakers seeking an end to North Korea’s nuclear program often point to Beijing’s leverage over Pyongyang as the key to securing a binding disarmament agreement and peace on the Korean peninsula. However, China’s key interests are maintaining stability along its shared border with North Korea and limiting U.S. military ...

Ambassador Fu Ying, Beijing’s veteran diplomat, said last month that her country had “no leverage” over North Korea unless China addressed Pyongyang’s security concerns. Whether China addresses those concerns or not, its leverage over Pyongyang is, in a word, overwhelming. The trend of thinking these days, both inside and outside ...

When U.S. President Donald Trump told Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that the U.S. had two submarines in the waters near Korea, it began a controversy over whether sharing the subs’ location was a leak of classified information and a security risk. A submarine’s ability to remain hidden is its greatest ...

For more than a decade, Asian countries have been on a submarine spending spree. Some countries are updating obsolete vessels while others are purchasing submarines for the first time. This trend has largely been driven by growing concerns nations have over maintaining a deterrent against an increasingly assertive China broadly, ...

Defense spending across Asia has increased substantially during the past 10 years, and looks to continue growing apace into the 2020s. Nowhere is this more apparent than in plans to spend nearly $40 billion on submarines during the next decade, as estimated by Avascent Analytics’ Global Platforms and Systems database. ...

Today Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc will become the first ASEAN leader to visit the White House under the Trump administration. The meeting is a part of his first official trip to the U.S. after more than a year holding the premiership. Phuc’s visit continues a series of high-level ...

On May 9, Moon Jae-in was elected as the new President of South Korea after six months of political turmoil and a power vacuum caused by Park Geun-hye’s impeachment scandal. This is a return of nationalistic and progressive leadership after the past two conservative administrations, and Moon’s landslide victory indicates ...

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, after last year’s U.S. election, was quick to meet with President Donald Trump to seek reassurance on the strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance and find areas of economic cooperation after Trump’s rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership – seen as necessary for Japan’s economic revitalization. Tokyo ...

South Korea and Japan are attempting to maintain business as usual in their alliances with the U.S., but the Trump Administration has not made this easy. A gap between President Donald Trump’s unpredictable comments and the more measured statements of his top Cabinet members has made building relations difficult. As ...

The situation between the US and North Korea remains tenuous and characterized by uncertainty. North Korea’s cancellation of the upcoming summit with South Korea over the recent US/South Korean joint military exercises underscores the fragile nature of the proposed talks between the two countries. While the United States Department of ...

There could not be a riper time than the present for North Korean provocations. Over the past six months, leadership changes took place in both the U.S. and South Korea, the DPRK’s two greatest adversaries. In Washington, the advent of the Trump Administration in January signaled to the Kim Jong-un ...

In the late 1990s, the United States returned to the idea of building a system that could defend the homeland from long-range missiles launched by North Korea, Iran, or any other adversary. The Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program has been under development for two decades. In that time, the program ...

The senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee is shrugging off as worthless propaganda Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offer to provide a record of a White House meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and two Russian officials.  In an interview with The Cipher Brief on Wednesday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) ...

From day one, South Korea’s new President, Moon Jae-in, has shown he will be a different type of leader. He confirmed a campaign promise that he would consider visiting Pyongyang before Washington to tackle the North Korean nuclear issue, albeit only if the conditions were right. He has said he ...

In his first days in office, newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in has tried to reassure the governments of the United States, Japan, and China that he will work to reduce tensions with North Korea, however his preference for engagement over sanctions has some experts wondering if his North ...

After months of uncertainty following the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, South Korea has a new president. Moon Jae-in, a human rights lawyer and former chief of staff in the Roh Moo-hyun administration, has promised to pursue economic and political reform and restore prosperity and trust in government. Moon faces ...

President Donald Trump has to make a decision soon: what will he do in Afghanistan? The U.S. is now in its 16th year in the country, and top military and foreign policy advisors are advocating for an expanded military role. Experts told The Cipher Brief that the President must consider ...

Liberal candidate Moon Jae-in won South Korea’s presidential election on Tuesday. Moon’s decisive win, with approximately 40 percent of the vote and a 14 percent lead over the next closest candidate, signifies the South Korean electorate’s desire for change after 10 years of conservative rule and a political corruption controversy ...

U.S. President Donald Trump marked his 100th day in office with an executive order calling for a review of U.S. trade deals, as well as its membership in the World Trade Organization. The order follows statements earlier in the week threatening to terminate or renegotiate NAFTA and the U.S. free ...

Forgive free-trade advocates for being a bit disoriented this year. The vertigo hit hard in January, when trade’s most notable defender at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, was not from the West but from the East. “Say no to protectionism,” Chinese President Xi Jinping urged in his ...

At a time when the U.S. is propping up its coal industry, China is expanding its support for clean energy. After years of targeted policy and investment, it has emerged as a global leader in the clean energy industry. Chinese firms continue to expand their share of the global market ...

As North Korea’s provocations increase, questions have been raised about whether the Trump Administration’s responses have made matters worse and if there really is a strategy to deal with Pyongyang’s expanding nuclear and missile programs. President Donald Trump has used harsh rhetoric toward North Korea, saying “all options are on ...

As we approach President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in the White House, it remains difficult to discern U.S. policy toward Russia.  The Administration has yet to articulate a clear policy, and its actions and words send mixed messages regarding American intentions toward Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin.  There ...

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea on Monday and warned Pyongyang the “patience” of the U.S. “has run out.”  His comments come a day after North Korea conducted a missile test that failed when the missile blew up almost immediately, according ...

While al Qaeda’s affiliates in North Africa, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen continue to grab headlines, the terrorist network has surreptitiously expanded eastward, entrenching itself throughout the Indian subcontinent. “Al Qaeda’s reach in South Asia is deeper than what not only the news headlines, but also the U.S. government, may suggest,” explains ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with Michael Kugelman, Deputy Director and Senior Associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center, to discuss the threat posed by al Qaeda’s affiliate in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). According to Kugelman, al Qaeda has managed to “spread its tentacles across the Indian Subcontinent ...

While al Qaeda’s affiliate in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) may be regionally focused, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, says “that doesn’t mean AQIS can be divorced from al Qaeda’s aspirations to attack the West.” In an interview with The Cipher Brief, Gartenstein-Ross also said ...

Donald Trump entered the presidency committed to improving U.S. ties with Russia, but less than three months into his term, the President says the relationship is at “an all-time low.” Trump’s comments come in the wake of last week's U.S. missile strike on Syria’s Shayrat Air Base in response to ...

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in Moscow for meetings with Russian officials at a time when U.S. rhetoric toward Russia has intensified in the wake of a deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria. The U.S. launched 59 Tomahawk missiles at Syria’s Shayrat Air Base last week in response to ...

In his first summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping offered his counterpart a Chinese calligraphy scroll with the aphorism “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Despite the lofty stakes involved in one of the world’s most important bilateral relationships, the achievements ...

In their first summit, Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping needed to demonstrate their leadership and authority to their respective publics. President Trump needed to show he was in charge and restore momentum after a major legislative defeat over health care reform. A validation of President Xi’s ability to manage ...

At 8:40PM EDT last Thursday, as the two were wrapping up a ceremonial dinner with their families, President Donald Trump informed President Xi Jinping that the United States was concluding a cruise missile strike against a Syrian airfield involved in a chemical weapons attack against rebels earlier in the week. ...